“...Wow!” Astonished, Flavus flung both his arms up. “It this the original?” He carefully opened the grey tome and leafed through the first chapter. “Yes, it is,” he said confidently. “I couldn’t even dream of seeing it with my own eyes! Simple Hunters like me are allowed to read only some chosen pages from it, the rest is top secret stuff… Do you think Sereg would mind if I read…” he frowned. “Yep, I think he would.” He closed the book.
“I won’t tell him,” promised Kangassk. “We will read this book together, right now. We have to find the dvoedushnik.”
“We?” Flavus raised his brows, surprised. “You think we can help?”
“I have a feeling that we can,” Kangassk’s fingers played with the cold obsidian; the answer kept eluding him, though. “I can’t help thinking that the Hunters have missed something important, something in plain sight. Tell me, did they check everyone in Iven? What did they exactly do?”
“They walked from house to house and checked the sleepers to see whether someone wouldn't wake up. But there were no heavy sleepers in Iven. That means the dvoedushnik is likely not here at all. It must be close, though. In Kossil, maybe Devalla… or…”
“Whoa, slow down,” Kangassk stopped him. Flavus was getting too excited for his own good. “Let’s read a bit…”
They read for several hours, actually, stopping only to argue about which chapter to read next. Flavus, excited with being trusted with the legendary book, got carried away easily. Again and again, Kangassk had to stop his friend from leafing through the whole silver tome and remind him that they should concentrate on the chapters about dvoedushniks. Still, Flavus was a huge help. He did a great job at translating the difficult paragraphs into normal human speech even a newbie like Kangassk could understand.
Everything Omnisians knew about vitryaniks and dvoedushniks easily fitted into a dozen of pages. Witnesses’ reports, contradicting observations, a lot of hypothetical ideas, bits of evidence… The phenomenon was that rare.
The most clear and trustworthy thing here was the emergency protocol written by Sereg’s hand:
“1. cordon off the suspicious areas, quarantine the population there
2. mark the locations of the demonic attacks on the map, localize the centre
3. in the centre, inspect the population for the signs of demonic possession. Main risk group: elderly people, heavy sleepers.”
“What’s with the elderly people?” asked Kangassk.
“Even people with small magical potential can gather some ambassa by the time they’re old. If they don’t use magic, of course. ”
“I see…” Kangassk nodded. “Vlada told me about what had happened in Danka. A mob killed an old man there. He was a heavy sleeper.”
“Poor man…” sighed Flavus, shaking his head. “Those savages…”
“4. isolate and humanely destroy the demon host. The destruction should be done in the daytime with an elite Seven and an active magical shield present on the site.”
They left the book only to join the rest of the Brians for dinner. It was evening, the time of terror was getting closer and closer every minute. Kan and Flavus tried to return to reading after they had eaten their fill but couldn’t. They sat there, in the safest house in the town, by the cosiest fireplace imaginable, and shivered, cold sweat on their brows, their hearts racing. In the hour of terror, they felt one with the other citizens of Iven and the mages who guarded them. The demonic wind, an invisible avalanche that would not stir even a single blade of grass but will easily tear a human being apart, was all both boys could think about now.
Gravely, they whispered each other goodnight, the useless “spell” everyone in Iven so desperately clung to these days, and retired to their rooms.
With the inner lights off in the fortress-house, the lights outside became so bright! Hundreds of cold magical spheres were glowing, twinkling above the tents, moving around with the patrols... Sounds of the outer world trickled freely into the silence of the Brians’ home now, with all the inhabitants sleeping or trying to sleep. The world that used to be muted before, was now impossible to ignore.
Kangassk lay on his bed, sleepless, terrified, and watched the magical light distorted by the stained-glass window dance on the floor of the guest room. The foreboding was getting stronger in his heart by the minute. Haunting thoughts were gathering in his mind like a swarm of hungry sylphs, maddening, clingy, hungry for his sanity. He felt sick.
Had he been there before? Of course he had! Many times. And he knew the way out.
With a distant look through years and years’ worth of memories, Kangassk recalled a certain day in Aren-Castell when old Osaro had taught him a lesson…